Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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The (In)Visible Boundaries of the Eruv – When Religion Goes Public

Part of the eruv in St Ives, incorporated into an existing electricity pole

Part of the eruv in St Ives, incorporated into an existing electricity pole

By Mareike Riedel

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

In May 2015 the Australian Jewish News reported proudly that Sydney’s second eruv, located in the Sydney North Shore neighbourhood of St Ives, had finally became functional. The eruv is a symbolic, almost invisible enclosure marked by existing demarcations and thin wires that facilitates Shabbat observance by virtually extending the private realm to the public space. During Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, the transport of objects outside of the domestic sphere is prohibited. This includes the pushing of prams, the carrying of keys or the use of a wheelchair. An eruv allows these things to be carried outside in public. Eruvin (Aramaic plural for eruv; modern Hebrew eruvim) exist in several cities in Australia (in Melbourne, Perth and in Sydney’s eastern suburbs), but also in Europe, North America, South Africa, and Israel. The establishment of Sydney’s second eruv marked the end of the almost decade-long struggle of the local Orthodox Jewish community to install this religious structure against the fierce opposition of a significant number of local residents, who portrayed the eruv as “out of place.”

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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

In May this year, a boat from Indonesia carrying 65 asylum-seekers was intercepted by Australian authorities in international waters. Media reports suggested the boat was en route to New Zealand, but that an Australian official paid its crew US$30,000 to return with the asylum-seekers to Indonesia.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee is conducting an Inquiry into the allegations, and is due to report on 15th September.

Hilary Charlesworth, Jacinta Mulders and Emma Larking wrote a submission to the Inquiry, considering the legality of the alleged payments under international law. They argued that any such payments would be inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (2000), as well as under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951).

 

Last week the Centre hosted a visit by the wonderfully collegial and generous Tony Anghie. Professor Anghie’s masterclass and talk at Traversing Divides, the symposium held in honour of Deborah Cass by CIGJ and the Centre for International and Public Law, ranged across his experiences on the Nauru Commission, his friendship with Associate Professor Cass, and as a founding figure in the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) movement.


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The human rights implications of smoking bans in prisons: some international cases

By Anita Mackay, Monash University

NSW prison staff prepare for the possibility of riots in response to this month's smoking ban. (Photo: ABC News/Corrective Services NSW)

NSW prison staff prepare for the possibility of riots in response to this month’s smoking ban. (Photo: ABC News/Corrective Services NSW)

Australia’s two most populous States have recently implemented smoking bans in prisons (Victoria from 1 July and NSW from 10 August). In doing this they are joining the Northern Territory (where smoking was banned from 1 July 2013), Queensland (from 5 May 2014) and Risdon prison in Tasmania (from 31 January 2015). In my previous post about smoking bans in Australian prisons, I considered some of the objectives of smoking bans, as well as evidence about how effective bans have been at achieving these objectives in countries that have greater experience with banning smoking in prisons.

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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

UtopiaThe “Aspirational Rituals: Promises and Utopias in Human Rights” workshop, convened last week by Ben Authers under the auspices of Hilary Charlesworth’s Laureate Fellowship, was a great success. Papers by Barnita Bagchi (Utrecht), Michelle Burgis-Kasthala (ANU), Margaret Davies (Flinders), Eliza Garnsey (Cambridge), Ben Golder (UNSW), Rachel Hughes (Melbourne), Robert Leckey (McGill) and Terri Tomsky (Alberta) engaged with the theme of utopias, and the often illusory promises of human rights, from diverse perspectives. A lively conversation developed over the course of the workshop, drawing on legal, political, and literary theory; art criticism; philosophy; and geographies of space and place.

We are looking forward to welcoming Tony Anghie to the Centre next week. Tony is Samuel D. Thurman Professor in the College of Law at the University of Utah. While he is here, Tony will host a masterclass on what it means to be a critical international lawyer.

The Centre is also co-hosting (with ANU’s Centre for International & Public Law), a symposium next week in honour of the brilliant international and constitutional lawyer, Deborah Cass.